Sunday, March 29, 2009

Authors Turn to Online Marketing to Promote Their Books

Staff cuts at publishing houses and the trend toward independent publishing fuel the popularity of online book promotion.

Both traditionally published and independently published authors are increasingly relying on the Internet to promote their books.

Publishers often provide little marketing support beyond a book's launch, leaving most of the promotional responsibility to the author. With so many staff cuts at major publishers in recent weeks, that situation is likely to get worse.

In addition, more and more authors are turning to independent publishing. These authors typically have modest marketing budgets and lack the media connections of publishing houses and publicists.

Both groups of authors face the same challenge: how to effectively promote their books without spending a fortune. Traditional book publicity tactics, such as pitching stories to the media and booking appearances on radio and television, can be a challenge if you're not working with an experienced publicist. Other promotions, like print ads, author tours and premium placement in bookstores, are expensive.

"With the Internet, authors can reach a huge targeted audience around the world at a very low cost," says book marketing coach Dana Lynn Smith, author of The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing. "Online book marketing levels the playing field, allowing small publishers to compete with the big guys."

In the new world of book marketing, authors and independent publishers have a variety of free and low-cost promotional tools at their disposal, including blogging, virtual book tours, online article distribution, videos, forums, interactive Web sites, social networking, online media releases and more.

The ability to reach a highly targeted audience is one of the major advantages of online book promotion. A few hours of research can turn up literally hundreds of blogs, websites, networks and forums that focus on a book's topic or cater to a niche audience.

"Online book marketing also allows authors to connect with their readers in new and interactive ways," explains Smith. "Social networking is really hot right now, as evidenced by the explosive growth of sites like Facebook and Twitter."

The downside of online marketing is that it can be very time consuming. Smith advises authors to have a written promotional plan and to budget their time wisely. "With good planning and tracking, authors can work smarter, not harder," she says.

Book marketing coach Dana Lynn Smith is the author of The Savvy Book Marketer's Guide to Successful Social Marketing, one of a series of book marketing tools available at She has a degree in marketing and 15 years of publishing experience. For free book marketing tips, visit